Redemption and Forgiveness Portrayed
In the past, I have usually been drawn to characters who have exhibited the need for redemption and forgiveness. Three of the most interesting have been portrayed on television to varying degrees.
Angel from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer“, was introduced as the mysterious “good” vampire with a soul, who develops an unrequited love for Buffy while seeking forgiveness and redemption for past deeds until we learned of the gypsy curse – that if he reaches a state of fulfillment, he would lose his soul. The inevitable happens, when he and Buffy have sex on her seventeenth birthday (Surprise , Innocence). Angel loses his soul, becomes evil and torments her by killing those closest to her until the season finale where she sends him into a Hell dimension, but not before Willow discovers the curse and restores his soul, using her ever increasing powers as a “good witch”.
Seven Of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of UniMatrix 01, “Star Trek Voyager“, a former Borg – who was joined to the collective since childhood and who participated in the assimilation of countless species – was initially introduced in the two part episode The Scorpion. The Borg was the most terrifying adversary of the Star Trek Universe, for its repression of the individuality in favor of the more efficient collective mind headed by the Queen whose drones were simply adjuncts of their collective. Once separated from the Hive, Seven was constantly searching for some kind of redemption and forgiveness, always questioning her personal responsibilities as a drone as her individuality emerged under the guidance of Captain Janeway. Even Picard who was assimilated in “The Best Of Both Worlds” has no sympathy for the Borg’s redeem ability.
Xena, Warrior Princess, champion of the ancient world (New Zealand) was not always the hero. Her quest was also about redemption and forgiveness. Her search was at the heart of each episode, as her guilt for past deeds was as much a companion as her ever faithful “cunning-linguist” (for those who remember the tongue in cheek dialog of the series) sidekick Gabrielle.
Each character went through different stages of these same struggles as they were used to exemplify ambivalence over their worthiness to receive the forgiveness and redemption they fought so hard to achieve.
Angel’s redemption was always dependent on whether he retained his soul which he lost numerous times during the life of the show. By the time the series ended and he started his own series, forgiving him became a cliché, as Buffy and the audience began to tire of constantly overlooking his evil deeds even if it was not his fault.
As the nature of the Borg collective became increasingly clear in Voyager episodes, Seven of Nine’s involvement became more difficult for even her to forgive as well as the guilt over the realization that there was no redemption for her except to accept responsibility for her actions and try to do well by her new collective, the crew of Voyager.
Xena was constantly motivated by her guilt until the very end and by the series finale, her final insight, when she was killed, was that even though she could have been brought back to life by Gabrielle, she chose to remain dead and hence pay for her evil past with her life by recognizing that even with redemption and forgiveness there is a price to pay. This is the same conclusion that the Silver Surfer came to as he betrayed Galactus to save Earth.